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Goodbye, Summer.

Summer and early morning walks on the beach go hand in hand for me. As we say goodbye to summer, come with me for one last stroll along the Rhode Island coastline. We’re walking along a piece of coastline only a mile or two east of where the SeaMount series is set. Breathe deeply. There’s a tang of salt in the air.

 

A calm morning.

A calm morning.

 

 

A flock of sandpipers and one piping plover.

A flock of sandpipers and one piping plover.

 

Blue shell crab.

Blue shell crab.

 

Piping plovers - their nesting areas are protected.

Piping plovers – their nesting areas are protected.

 

Slipper shells clinging to a stone.

Slipper shells clinging to a stone.

 

Wedding cake sand sculpture. Was there a wedding on the beach last night?

Wedding cake sand sculpture. Was there a wedding on the beach last night?

 

Huge horseshoe crab. He's dead.

Huge horseshoe crab. He’s dead.

…but this one is very much alive and carrying freeloading slipper shells…

…but this one is very much alive and carrying freeloading slipper shells…

 

A foggy morning. A train of waves coming ashore.

A foggy morning. A train of waves coming ashore.

 

Seaweed on the beach after a storm.

Seaweed on the beach after a storm.

 

'Summer cottages' against the morning sky.

‘Summer cottages’ against the morning sky.

 

The blue of the Atlantic Ocean meets the blue of the sky.

The blue of the Atlantic Ocean meets the blue of the sky.

 

Slack tide. Where the water coming in from the ocean meets the water leaving the salt pond.

Slack tide. Where the water coming in from the ocean meets the water leaving the salt pond.

 

A beach rose with a visiting bumblebee.

A beach rose with a visiting bumblebee.

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SeaMount Agency – A Home for the Heros

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1 OCEAN HOUSE

Information not yet on the SeaMount page of my website:

Sam Traven, owner/director of SeaMount Agency, will have his own story.

Originally, his story was to be the first book of the series. About 100 pages into Sam’s story, I came to the conclusion his backstory should unfold throughout several other books in the series before I give him his own happy-ever-after story. (story hint: I love ‘beauty and the beast’ stories.)

Before I realized how deep Sam’s scars went, I rocked along having way to much fun setting up housekeeping for him and his agency in an oceanfront home like those in a local beach community. Because of his physical needs, I gave him a gym and a pool for exercise, a spa area for therapeutic massage, and a greenhouse for his beloved orchids.

To run the place, Sam hired Agatha ‘Aggie’ Livingstone, heart-of-the-home and housekeeper, tough enough to handle a bunch of alpha males. She needed an industrial kitchen but for the sake of story, I couldn’t shut her up in there unable to interact with the guys, so I imagined something more open with an attached dining room. The picture in my head was a little hazy but I figured I’d make it work. I also needed a common area for the men to gather. A campfire kept coming to mind, so a crackling fireplace in a living room, (open and utiltarian) was what I pictured.

That was fun!

Then I set the story aside, telling Sam he’d have to wait for the woman of his dreams.

Amazing things happen when I let God – my creative Creator – lead the way.

Some of it scary stuff. Tough stuff till I got to the amazing part.

I jumped into Gray’s story, landing in the North Woods of Maine. Adventures one after the other until he got OUT OF THE WILDERNESS with Sophie and the girls. Then the fun stopped. The home, that big, beautiful building, I’d created for Sam and the men that worked for him was right there waiting for Gray and Sophie’s return. The foundations had been set in Sam’s unfinished story.

But for some reason, I was wandering in the desert.

Lots of writing drivel, revisiting the plot, praying and crying out to God filled those weeks. Stuff like ‘YOU gave me this story! HELP me!” And, “If you don’t want me to write, show me what I’m supposed to be doing!” And, “YOU promised to never leave me or forsake me! Helloooo. Feeling a little lonely here, God.” (I’m a firm believer in being honest with my heavenly Father. He created me and knows all there is to know about me. If I’m a little upset with how He’s handling things, He knows that, too. I figure I can be honest with Him and He won’t toss me out like last week’s furry leftovers.) My side of the conversation ended with, “Fine. I’m getting nowhere fast and you aren’t helping me. So be it. I’m done banging my head against the keyboard. I’m done. You hear me? No more whining, begging, wheeling and dealing. Stick a fork in me. I’m done! Let me know when it’s time to start up again.”

Facing the Ocean. Multi level decks

Facing the Ocean.
Multi level decks

Spring came and I visited the open house of a reconstructed-from-the-ground-up Victorian-style hotel in the very same  beach community I’d set up housekeeping for Sam. I never attend those things. Never. But this one intrigued me because it was so close to Sam’s story and maybe I’d get an idea or two if I started writing again. (Do you hear me, Lord?) It was also an opportunity to see a high-end resort that I’d never have the $$ to stay at. (Though a girl can dream…. Please. Buy my book.)

I walked through the front doors and stepped into the SeaMount Agency.

Hundreds (it seemed) of folks milling around, taking pictures and talking, and I stood there with my heart pounding and my ears buzzing because inside I was shouting, ‘OH MY GOD!’ Not in blasphemy, but with praise and awe and joy! I was all jittery inside. This hotel lobby was Sam’s ‘livingroom’. Windows on the side, chairs positioned just so in front of the fireplace. But not just any old fireplace. A beach stone fireplace. God out did my puny idea, and even gave me a glimpse of how He cares for the smallest details.

Several minutes of picture-taking later, when my feet were back on the ground, I reluctantly headed for the fancy dining room. I’d already had my ‘God moment’. Everything else would surely disappoint. Besides the whole kitchen/dining room had been a bit of a stickler in my vision. One step inside and once again my heart jolted into overdrive. There before me was my industrial kitchen – with a counter along one side. (Why didn’t I think of that!) Someplace I found out it was called an ‘exhibition kitchen’! I had no idea such a thing existed. But it was perfect for Aggie. And the dining room with windows overlooking the ocean and… and… I turned in circles wishing everyone would leave Sam’s house! And there, in the corner, another glimpse of God’s signature in the details.

Lap Pool

Lap Pool

I practically mowed folks down as I headed for the open staircase and the next floor down. “Please, God. Please, God.” What would I find. I passed more glimpses of Him revealing Himself to me and my heart was bursting as I hurried down the stairs to the lobby below. I believe, help me in my unbelief.

I found:
A beautiful fitness center. (For Sam to exercise in.)
A salon and spa area. (For Sam’s therapeutic massage. And, yes, I took pictures of the men’s locker room. Necessary research.)
An indoor lap pool. (I hadn’t thought of a lap pool for Sam. Duh.)

I was frenetic. Running hither and thither (I’ve always wanted to write that), taking pictures and envisioning the SeaMount men in the beach locker room, in the masculine board room with state-of-the-art technology. (Video conference!)

And everywhere, God’s loving hand revealed with those glimpses of ~ orchids.

In hallway nooks. In every room of the spa. As a centerpiece in the dining room. In the public bathrooms. In the private bathrooms of the hotel rooms. Orchids, Sam’s passion, every where I turned.

Orchid in the locker room

Orchid in the locker room

What an amazing God! How He love’s surprising His children. Yes, even the ones that act like spoiled two-year olds when frustrated and tired. (That would be me.) Why hadn’t I trusted more? How sweet it was to go home and write the rest of Gray’s story, OUT OF THE WILDERNESS, having seen the inside of the Ocean House. Like a cool rain beating down on that dry desert, the words flowed. I continue to work on the series, currently working on Jack Conroy’s story, INTO THE DEEP. When will I learn that God only wants good things for me, but in His time, not mine?

Are you still with me? This has been a looong post. Much longer than the experts recommend blog posts be. (No one has time to read long posts, they say.) But how could I shortchange this story and an awesome, magnificent God.

My favorite Bible verse –
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29: 11-13

He was there all along. Listening. Planning. Preparing the way.

Oh, and Sam’s greenhouse? There’s a place for that, too. Smack dab in the middle of the tournament level croquet lawn.

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The Lord Remains Faithful

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever – do not abandon the works of your hands.
Psalm 138:8

A week ago today, I came home from a writing retreat. I cried most of the way home. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to come home. It was more that I didn’t want to leave the wonder of that creative and sacred experience. I didn’t want to come down off  ‘the mountain top’, where I had found inspiration and renewal.

I’ve hugged the memories close and savored them, sharing with the few who would truly understand how dear the experience was for me. This isn’t my story. It’s God’s story. I’m just the flawed writer He chose to bless.

******

With a deadline looming, Old Roady was okay with me taking some of our timeshare points and getting away to write. With the winter weather, I’d hoped to be close to home, as in, just down Route 1 a few miles. But on such short notice, there was nothing available in Rhode Island. We found a studio with a partial kitchenette for six days in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Then Nemo – The Blizzard of 2013 – blew across the region on February 8th.

Blizzard of 2013

Blizzard of 2013

Four days later I received a phone call. The resort in Falmouth was unable to accommodate the reservations for folks checking in.

Wish I could say I was calm about this. I wasn’t. The lovely woman from the timeshare clearinghouse was kind enough to help me look for an alternative. But throughout all of RI, CT and MA, she found only one other place. It, too, was in Falmouth and for only three nights. She would call to see if they were taking ‘inbounds’.

At this point, I prayed – finally. And the prayer was pretty sketchy. Mostly disconnected thoughts flung heavenward. But God is good. No. God is AMAZING. Because even when I’m not at my best, He remains faithful and continues to work out HIS PLAN for me.

The lovely lady (I wish I could remember her name.) called me back. The other place in Falmouth was available. Would I like it? That’s when I told her what I needed – a quiet place away from daily duties and distractions so I could concentrate on writing.

She giggled and then said, “Oh. Wait. Something just popped up! Is Rhode Island okay?”

“Yes.” I held my breath, because there are no coincidences. Only God-incidences.

“Long Wharf in Newport. Sunday to Sunday. Would that be alright?”

I barely heard her over the pounding of my heart. “Yes. How many nights?”

“Sunday to Sunday.”

“The whole week?” One more day than I would have had in Falmouth.

“Yes. It’s a one bedroom condo with a full kitchen. And since it’s a swap, you get it for the same number of points as Falmouth. It’s usually twice as many.”

I think God loves surprises because every step of the way, the trip only got better.

On check-in, I found out the Inn was going through renovations. Only the fifth floor was open and I was the first to use the completely renovated condo.

Long Wharf Resort

Long Wharf Resort

Within hours of checking in, God painted the sky for me.

Sunset over Long Wharf

Sunset over Long Wharf

Newport fishing fleet and lobster boats

Newport fishing fleet and lobster boats

I emptied my schedule and let go of all that fights for my attention. I made room for God to come in and fill the empty space.  

I was needy and my heart was willing. 

How often am I unwilling? How often do I fill my time with everything but what God desires for me?

A Room With A View

A Room With A View

I was on Holy ground.  My writing, an offering.

God blessed me abundantly with time and words. 

The empty computer screen filled, line after line. How many times in the past have I been afraid the words wouldn’t come? Why can’t I trust like this every day? 

Evening Sun

Will I remember?
On the days that nothing comes easy, will I open up and be uncomfortably empty so He can fill me?

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them –
the Lord, who remains faithful forever.
Psalm 146:5-6

The Scary Fun of Self-Publishing!

I feel like that gawky teenager all over again. On a family vacation, standing at the end of the high diving board and looking down. Scary fun! That excited feeling accompanied by a ping of fear. Hoping – praying – I don’t belly-flop.

That’s how I feel as I release the first book of my SeaMount Series, OUT OF THE WILDERNESS. 

I’m excited! I’m scared! I’m a little bit overwhelmed. I love the story. I love the characters. I hope you will, too!

Now available on Amazon. All other venues to follow soon.

Former Navy SEAL Grayson Kerr’s honor has become tarnished working as a soldier for hire. His newfound faith in God has him longing to restore his integrity. His new mission is to qualify for a job with the SeaMount Agency. He wants to be one of the good guys. In the midst of a wilderness survival trial, he discovers a woman and her children lost in the forest. Abandoning his own mission in order to help them could disqualify him for the job.

Sophie Moore has fought to hold heart and home together since her husband’s death. To lose custody of her daughters to his influential parents would be her undoing. Determined to make every moment together count, Sophie plans a weekend away. Almost at their destination, she takes a wrong turn and becomes lost in a labyrinth of logging roads. The scruffy, hard-edged soldier that finds them is their only chance at survival.

From the wilderness of Maine to the SeaMount Agency headquarters on the coast of Rhode Island, Gray works to expose the criminal plot behind Sophie’s custody battle. He jeopardizes getting the job he wants for having the love of the woman he needs. Being a good guy may cost him his one shot at redemption.

Coastal Mantle

The chipped and peeling old window I brought home from my neighbor’s yard sale is on the mantle. My original plans included a garland but time just hasn’t been on my side. With the end of August looming the coastal theme will soon disappear so here are ‘the bones’.

I bought the little sandpiper bird years ago at a craft fair. It’s made of fake fur and has a leather bill. The clam shells are from local Rhode Island beaches. Can anyone go to the beach and not collect treasures?

The conch shell dates back to my senior year of high school and my trip to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The trip was a graduation present from my employers, Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan. They paid for the air fare and I stayed in their winter home with them for an entire week. What an adventure. The conch shell is from a day of boating and snorkeling.

The shell pieces in the jar were collected on Sanibel Island, Florida during a family vacation. Even broken, the soft colors of the tumbled bits of shells are appealing.

As the season begins to change so does the late afternoon light. The shadows in my dining room are longer and muted.  Soon my baskets filled with seashells, beach stones and sea glass will be tucked away. Another summer is winding down and that gives me a twinge of sadness, but not for long. Pumpkins and the vibrant colors of fall are just around the corner.

“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!
― Humbert Wolfe

Such A Deal I Have, For You My Special Friend…

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So I’m busy making supper and a guy knocks on my door and says, “I’ve finished making my deliveries and have extra steaks. Only $3.00 each. Would you like to buy some? I have filet mignon and ____.”

I didn’t hear the second cut of beef he was selling. My brain was too busy trying to process the fact that this guy showed up out of no where – well, actually New York (and I live in Rhode Island)  – and he just happens to have these extra steaks… for $3.00 each.

There was this little mouse in my head scramblin’ around squeaking things like, “Who are you?” “Why my door?” “Is it the house? It’s a perpetual construction zone of unfinished projects. Does it look like I would eat filet mignon?” Maybe that’s the thing. He figured I would jump at the chance to have filet mignon on a ground beef budget. (Which, come to think of it, isn’t cheap either.)

The truck he drove was the size of a small pick-up and had a box refrigerator unit in the bed. (About the size of a small U-Haul truck.) Emblazoned on the side of the white refrigerated box were the words ‘USDA Beef’ in a red and blue diamond logo.

  • He appeared spiffy and clean, but what was the name of his business?
  • Have the steaks been kept at proper temperature on the trip from New York to Rhode Island and during an entire day of deliveries?
  • Has the meat been federally inspected? (Maybe that’s a mediocre argument given some of the documentaries out there, but still… mad cow, anyone?)
  • And again, what’s the name of the business?

Okay I admit, I was running on instinct powered by that silly mouse and these questions didn’t pop into my head until after I said ‘no thanks’ and closed the door. I’ll never know the answers. But standing there confronted with this mobile meatman, I just couldn’t think this was a good thing. After all, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Right? (I know, I need to be more open to new things – but food poisoning isn’t one of them.)

Filet mignon for $3.00. Each.

It’s been forever since I’ve even seen one. With my frame of reference, he could have passed off almost any cut of meat (well, not a T-bone steak or a lamb chop) as filet mignon and I’m not sure I would have known any better. (I just had to google to be sure I spelled it correctly.) And then I have this magnificent piece of beef, (how many ounces do you get for $3.00. Each.??) and I don’t know that I’d do it justice ‘cuz I like my beef cooked and an expensive (except this time) cut like filet mignon is more of a stick-it-in-the-oven-turn-around-three-times-take-it-out-and-eat-it piece of beef. USDA beef. Butchered who knows where, by who knows who and only $3.00. Each.

I wouldn’t do it justice grilling it either. I know your supposed to use tongs to grill meat, but I lost mine someplace (how does that happen?) so I use my long handled granny fork and, yes, I lose some of the juice and I’m sure grillmasters everywhere are breaking out in hives. Deal with it. I don’t want to buy another pair of tongs when I have a pair around here… someplace. And for filet mignon, I’d feel obligated to buy tongs. (There goes the savings on the filet mignon for only $3.00. Each.)

And here’s the spooky thing. I already told you I was busy making supper when he showed up at my door, right?

I was grilling a (bought-on-sale) steak out on the back deck.

It’s like I drew him in with the smell or something.

So what do you think? Did I say ‘no’ to a good thing? What would you have done if he showed up at your door?

Misquamicut State Beach, Rhode Island

A beautiful day today! Went to the beach to have lunch with friends.

Weekapuag in the distance. I’d like to thank the seagulls for cooperating with my photo shoot.

Looking towards the Watch Hill Lighthouse.

The salt pond and salt marsh on the other side of Atlantic Avenue.

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